Finding the Needle in the Haystack


I had spent over three months looking for an apartment and slowly but surely realized that I would have to give up my life and work every waking hour of my day to pay for an halfway decent place. The previous two semesters were spent in an outrageously overpriced on-campus apartment ($1000 per month) that I had to share with three life-sized barbies who seemed to have been displaced from their jobs as hookers and now invited their customers home. Although the drama, fights, and mean fridge notes were rather entertaining at times, I was plain miserable at this place.

The last apartment I looked at, before ripping the “Apartment Guide” in shreds and moving into my tiny mobile home, was slightly below budged and seemed nice enough to go check out. The studio was on the top floor of an old Victorian style house. The neighborhood appeared friendly: no questionable establishments in sight and not too much traffic either. As usual, I arrived early and took the time to walk around the house. As far as I could tell, the house consisted of one large apartment on the bottom floor and two smaller studio apartments on the top floor. Although the property was not “well maintained”, it was reasonably clean. As I waited for the owner to show up, who was 10 minutes late already, another potential tenant joined me. I can´t remember his name, but he looked about as desperate as I was. And of course, he began sharing his story with me: Lost his job, wants to go back to school, crashed with friends, and broke up with his girlfriend. I considered telling him not to share these details with the landlord, but decided against it and instead continued listening.

After another 10 minutes, the owner walked onto the property seemingly unaware of his lateness. He greeted us with a smile and immediately began talking about the apartment and, for some reason, his current tenant. He explained to us that he was very close to all his tenants and counted on everybody´s openness and respect. According to him, he had never had any difficulties with any of his tenants and intended on keeping it that way. “Doesn´t sound bad”, I thought to myself, as we walked up the wooden stairs.

The apartment was small yet charming. I didn´t mind the kitchen´s low ceiling as I am not very tall myself and the newly renovated marble bathroom was definitely a plus. The bedroom/living room was big enough for my needs and had a big window with a great view. In the middle of the tour, a young women and her girlfriend joined us and simply pushed me and the desperate guy out of the way. I didn´t really care since I had I seen enough, and instead exclaimed that I was very interested in the apartment and would like a copy of the lease. The landlord smiled and explained: “Oh no, honey. That´s part of building the trust. I don´t do paperwork until we´ve built a solid foundation. I usually have people sign a lease after two or three months”. The whole deal suddenly appeared rather fishy and I decided to check with a lawyer friend of mine before renting the place. I promised the landlord to call him in a few hours after he proclaimed how happy he´ll be to have me as his new tenant. I walked back downstairs feeling that maybe the whole apartment hunting madness was finally over. Before I managed to back out of the driveway, desperate guy stopped me. He was visibly upset and began yelling: “The asshole just gave the apartment to the two little sluts up there. Just thought you wanted to know”.

After talking to the landlord and confirming that he had in fact changed his mind 30 seconds after I had left, I began thinking that maybe my tiny mobile home plan wasn´t as crazy as it seemed. After three months of basement apartments with bars in front of the windows; strip joints, bars, and pot stores next door; landlords that look like pimps; and the endless “We´ll call you as soon as something becomes available”, I realized that I was nothing but another easily replaceable rent check. And I was beyond tired of the whole ordeal.

4 thoughts on “Finding the Needle in the Haystack

  1. Don’t do it!! Actually, I considered getting a temporarily sublet for next winter. Three months is better than 12. But if I manage to get my roof not to leak, I won’t bother. Apartment hunting is a pain, and then you have to pay them every month!


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